Why more brands are using publishers as their marketing departments

Jun 1 2020, 1:00 pm

Local and international brands are experiencing unfathomable changes in operations as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect consumer behaviour trends.

Some have found ways to adapt. Others have been forced to lay off employees or reduce hours to stay afloat. As of May 19, the Government of Canada received over 14 million applications for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Increased pressure is being felt by professionals who have retained their positions but are now faced with creating marketing strategies without any prior experience. Although this is not the case for everyone, a lack of advertising expertise can lead to poorly executed projects.

“It’s no secret that marketers are also now faced with reduced budgets and must find ways to operate leaner,” says Neil Malik, director of client services at Hive Labs.

But your options are not limited to freelancers or expensive agencies. Publishers are joining the marketing mix and offering a fresh take on advertising.

“The team at Hive Labs is made up of strategists, writers, videographers and producers, all experienced in marrying a brand’s message with our publication’s voice. We operate just like an agency, but without the middleman,” says Malik.

A March report by tech firm NTT revealed that 45% of companies said they will outsource more than they insource over the next 18 months. Now could be the right time to refocus your brand’s resources and consider working with a publisher’s content studio. Here are six key differentiators of doing so.

Exposure to a large social user base

Organically growing a social media following is something that takes time, dedication, and community engagement. Increasing your social media spend and boosting posts doesn’t matter if you’re not reaching the right people.

When a publisher has an owned and engaged user base and social feeds filled with user-generated content, it’s easy to capture the right audience through targeting. Sponsored posts, contesting, or takeovers hosted on a publisher’s social accounts are effective ways to share your brand’s message organically.

Hive Labs executed campaigns for Denny’s Canada and Babylon by TELUS Health that are prime examples of this because they seamlessly connected brands with thousands of users through engaging Instagram story takeovers.

A cost-effective tactic

Onboarding and retaining employees costs a significant amount of money for any business. In contrast, outsourcing marketing to a publisher’s content studio offers a cost advantage for brands that are perhaps seeing a decrease in revenue. This model effectively allows you to pay per project based on your needs.

It’s not a new phenomenon — the global outsourcing market amounted to US $92.5 billion in 2019. In the short- and long-term, outsourcing advertising reduces overhead costs, saves you from purchasing tools and subscriptions, decreases turnover, and ensures a detailed approach to your key objectives.

The diverse scope of products

Audiences have time for organic-feeling ad content. In 2019, a Verizon Media study revealed that 79% of respondents would rather see ads that blend into the page as opposed to obtrusive banners. 

There is a common misconception that brands can avail of one set product from a publisher’s content studio. However, the breadth of options available is larger than you might realize.

At Hive Labs, we have a menu of products set at different price points to allow you to find the right fit for your brand. This includes banner ads on our site, branded written and video content, Supported By content (editorial content including your brand’s logo), as well as social content with options for posts, Instagram contests, takeovers, and story features.

Carefully strategized campaigns

Over the last three years, companies have increased their marketing budget spending on customer experience by 71%. But if your investment to build your brand through satisfied customers doesn’t increase sales or build general brand awareness, something isn’t aligned.

Working with a publisher’s content studio ensures that extra care is taken with campaign planning and execution. To ensure branded content feels organic, our team thoughtfully integrates key messaging to resonate with the audience on an emotional level, targeting their interests based on in-house statistics.

It’s also worth noting that audiences react more positively to branded video than commercials. This is, in large part, because publishers are strategic in designing useful and aspirational content as opposed to taking an aggressive sales approach.

Opportunities to change direction

Creating quality branded content takes time. No brand wants to be remembered for a campaign with inconsiderate messaging. Designing your marketing strategy with a publisher’s content studio gives you time to make amendments based on current affairs or brand objectives.

This kind of careful messaging was integral to recent campaigns for Metro VancouverH&R Block, and McDonald’s Canada, all of which were created and published during an incredibly unprecedented time.

If your brand’s goal is to connect with an audience through meaningful, helpful, and relatable content, it might be beneficial to seek assistance from a publisher — your new marketing department.

Catriona HughesCatriona Hughes

+ Hive Labs